Accelerating Singapore's Startup Ecosystem


Check out the video fo the full day's event here

A summary of a design forum sponsored by Google to explore how to accelerate the growth of the Singapore Tech Enabled Startup ecosystem. Last week I was invited to take part in a 1.5 day session brainstorming and envisioning the future of Singapore.  The 1.5 day session was put together by Google & PWC as part of their Innovation Forum.  The event brought together some key players in the ecosystem across all areas both public and private (government, funders, industry, enablers and entrepreneurs) such as SUTD, Fresh Bulb, Golden Gate Ventures, Woomentum, Roomarama, JFDI and more.

The objectives were:

  • Define a shared intent and belief for the technology startup ecosystem
  • Explore the current data and patterns of the ecosystem (current state)
  • Explore the potential of a connected and coordinated ecosystem (future state)
  • Identify focuses required to reach the future state

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Some of the things we discussed were:

  • How would we redesign the ecosystem?
  • What challenges are currently in the ecosystem?
  • How can we engage all key stakeholders that could help accelerate the ecosystem?
  • What do we envision Singapore to be in 2030 and how can we take it forward?
  • What if there was no more government funding?

We were even asked to imagine situations such as “Build a 1 billion dollar startup in Singapore” and look at the challenges, what we would need to build it in Singapore, which key players in the ecosystem would we need to work with and how? It was just the dose of connecting and collaborating that I was needing at this stage and simply reminded me that the key to change is a group of individuals working together to make things happen.  A group of individuals can dream up and do more than one individual or organisation. It’s refreshing to see an event like this happening in Singapore -  hearing everyone’s perspectives on the entire Startup space only confirmed some of our own thoughts for Singapore and the region. Many of the learnings / findings were not necessarily new to myself however it was helpful to see that many of the points raised and discussed were being felt across the board reiterating the need for much much more.  In addition it highlights the need for something such as The Change School to exist here, with a particular demand in the space of talent building and culture and mindset.

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Throughout the entire forum the main items that kept coming up were:

1. Talent & Skills

  • Including career matching.
  • Growing the current local talent skills but also the larger talent pool.
  • Looking at new scholarship models that help increase experience but also understanding of the different jobs and roles out there.
  • Discussions around Startup Visa - similar to the US.

2. Mentorship and Expertise Advise

  • Stronger mentors.
  • Stronger mentorship programmes with continuity and consistency.
  • Developing a platform that can assist in matching with mentors or experts.
  • Access to experts and advise at no cost or limited cost.
  • Pooling of resources such as experts so that startups and entrepreneurs can grow their business.

3. Funding

  • Deal flow assistance.
  • More mid level funding funds.
  • VC’s educating or working with sharing knowledge more on how to build better businesses for VC investment.

4. Culture & Mindset

  • Increasing risk appetite.
  • Developing different perceptions on entrepreneurship, rather than just celebritising entrepreneurship.
  • Breaking down stereotypes so we have a broader view.
  • Workshops and sessions to open our minds and understanding of people, place and culture.

At the end of design session we all came to a  decision to come back together in late January for a discussion on how to take this forward.  My hope is that this doesn’t just become another research paper or discussion but actually turns into something that is actionable and does help to move forward the ecosystem and Singapore in general.  We will keep you updated on any developments in the new year.